Bridging epidemiology and model organisms to increase understanding of endocrine disrupting chemicals and human health effects

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Oct;127(1-2):108-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2010.11.007. Epub 2010 Nov 26.


Concerning temporal trends in human reproductive health has prompted concern about the role of environmentally mediated risk factors. The population is exposed to chemicals present in air, water, food and in a variety of consumer and personal care products, subsequently multiple chemicals are found human populations around the globe. Recent reviews find that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can adversely affect reproductive and developmental health. However, there are still many knowledge gaps. This paper reviews some of the key scientific concepts relevant to integrating information from human epidemiologic and model organisms to understand the relationship between EDC exposure and adverse human health effects. Additionally, areas of new insights which influence the interpretation of the science are briefly reviewed, including: enhanced understanding of toxicity pathways; importance of timing of exposure; contribution of multiple chemical exposures; and low dose effects. Two cases are presented, thyroid disrupting chemicals and anti-androgens chemicals, which illustrate how our knowledge of the relationship between EDCs and adverse human health effects is strengthened and data gaps reduced when we integrate findings from animal and human studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Androgens / biosynthesis
  • Animals
  • Endocrine Disruptors / blood
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Male / abnormalities
  • Genitalia, Male / drug effects
  • Genitalia, Male / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / chemically induced*
  • Infertility, Male / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Reproductive Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Androgens
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Thyroid Hormones